Staying Healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services (5th Edition)

Summary information

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Available in print: 
No - PDF only
Further information: 

Staying Healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services (5th Edition) is no longer available in hard copy. Please access the PDF version on this website, and download parts or all of it to suit your needs. The companion resources , including posters and additional fact sheets, are found at the bottom of this webpage.

This 5th edition replaces Staying Healthy in Child Care - Preventing infectious diseases in child care (4th edition), and represents an increased focus on a risk-management approach to infection prevention and control principles in daily care activities.

Staying Healthy provides educators and other staff working in education and care services with simple and effective methods for minimising the spread of disease. It contains more ‘how to’ advice on procedures and discussing exclusion periods with parents.

The advice is presented in six parts:

  • concepts of infection control
  • monitoring illness in children
  • procedures
  • issues for employers, educators and other staff
  • fact sheets on diseases common to education and care services
  • forms, useful contacts and websites.

Six posters (to be used in early childhood education and care services) and three information sheets (for parents) have also been developed and are available for download below.

Fact sheets on croup and warts were unintentionally omitted in the first printed edition of the 5th Edition of Staying Healthy. NHMRC has produced an updated version of the 5th Edition which includes these two fact sheets. NHMRC has also taken this opportunity to make some minor amendments to the publication, which are outlined on page iii of the publication. The fact sheets and updated guideline are available below.

Related information: 

Public Consultation report


In response to media inquiries regarding the 5th edition of this publication NHMRC has advised that:

Staying Healthy is best practice advice to help child care centres make good decisions for children in their care, not a new set of rules. The advice aims to reduce the risk of serious infections and infectious diseases spreading through child care centres to the children’s families, the workers and the community. It’s not about keeping children away from all germs. Assertions that cakes and candles will be “banned” are incorrect. This is not new advice—all of the items mentioned were in the previous edition, published in 2005. At least one media report acknowledged there are child care centres that already, for example, ask children not to blow out candles on a cake to be shared.

The advice in relation to doctors’ letters simply reflects that staff of child care centres use their common sense—for example, the child’s condition may have changed since the visit to the doctor. This is not a reflection in the doctor’s advice but emphasises that the responsibility for protecting children remains with the child care centre.

Development of Staying Healthy involved extensive consultation with the childhood and education section, experts and the public. It was reviewed by experts prior to publication, including paediatricians, communicable disease experts, a representative from Early Childhood Australia and population health experts. Public consultation was undertaken between November 2011 and January 2012. The principles outlined in Staying Healthy include effective hand hygiene, exclusion of ill children and adults, and immunisation. Additional to this is use of gloves, cough and sneeze etiquette, and effective environmental cleaning. These principles are applicable to every early education and care setting. However, not every centre will be able to implement the principles and the document allows for individual centres to use and implement the principles for keeping children healthy according to their philosophies and processes.